Image of book spines by Jessica Grose, Michael Compton and Marc Manseau, and Rachel Aviv
Photo: Erik Gould
The Arts

Fresh Ink for April–May 2024
Books by Jessica Grose ’04, Michael Compton and March Manseau ’02, ’06 MPH, and Rachel Aviv ’04

By Edward Hardy / April–May 2024
April 8th, 2024

Screaming on the Inside: The Unsustainability of American Motherhood by Jessica Grose ’04 (Mariner Books)

If you’re feeling like a bad mother, overwhelmed by guilt and everyone else’s expectations of what motherhood should be—it’s not your fault. That’s because, as Grose writes in this fierce, witty, and companionable book, our society, with its minimal and often leaky family support systems, isn’t set up to support you. Grose is an opinion writer for the New York Times who covers family issues and while the book tracks her own path through new parenthood, it’s also a well-reported piece of cultural criticism, one that includes interviews with nearly a hundred parents from all corners of the playground.


Struggle and Solidarity: Seven Stories of How Americans Fought for Their Mental Health Through Federal Legislation edited by Michael Compton and Marc Manseau ’02, ’06 MPH (American Psychiatric Association Publishing)

Helpful origin stories of seven pieces of federal legislation, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1965, that all led to important changes in society, which in turn improved mental health. The greater argument here is that all policies are in some sense mental health policies and fixing societal problems will lead to better mental health outcomes down the line. Four chapters were written in part by Brown alums: Flávio Casoy ’03, ’09 MD, Caroline Bersak ’05, Daniel Neghassi ’05, and Jacob Izenberg ’08.


Strangers to Ourselves: Unsettled Minds and the Stories That Make Us by Rachel Aviv ’04 (Picador)

With moving, sometimes haunting prose Aviv, a New Yorker staff writer, deftly hikes into the hinterlands of psychiatry, looking at how the narratives attached to a diagnosis can shape a person’s sense of self. This nuanced, deeply researched debut centers on case studies of four people, including a former doctor consumed by his perceived failures and an Indian woman whose devotion to Hinduism is itself considered an illness, and how their experiences of mental illness are far more complex than their diagnoses allow for. As Aviv writes: “There are stories that save us, and stories that trap us, and in the midst of an illness it can be very hard to know which is which.”

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